WARSAW, Poland – Poland's president appealed Wednesday to Ukraine's leaders to change what he called anachronistic laws that have allowed the imprisonment of opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko and others on political grounds.
Bronislaw Komorowski's appeal comes amid growing concern in the European Union over the imprisonment and treatment of Tymoshenko, a former prime minister who is serving a seven-year jail term on abuse of office charges.
The imprisonment, widely viewed in the West as politically motivated, has become a pressing political issue for Poland because the two countries will co-host the Euro 2012 soccer championship next month. It's something they have been preparing to do for five years and their prestige is on the line.
Warsaw strongly disapproves of how Tymoshenko is being treated, but also opposes calls by some EU members to boycott Ukraine during Euro 2012, not wanting to see the championship become a failure.
Komorowski strongly urged Kiev to change laws that allowed for the conviction and imprisonment of Tymoshenko for some decisions she made while holding office, indicating the laws are a remnant of the ex-Soviet republic's non-democratic past.
"These regulations, born under a previous system and until today still unchanged by Ukrainian democrats, are the source of bad temptations and bad decisions," Komorowski said in Warsaw.
But Komorowski also stressed that Poland does not support a boycott of Ukraine.
"I want to clearly speak against a boycott of Ukraine and against a boycott of Euro 2012 games in Ukraine. We are co-organizers and co-hosts of the championships," Komorowski said. "A political struggle should not ruin our joint Polish-Ukrainian sports celebration and the Polish-Ukrainian undertaking that was intended to be, and should be, a help for Ukraine on its path toward European integration."
He praised efforts that Ukraine has made in past years to establish closer political and economic ties with the European Union, but expressed concern that the ratification of an association agreement between Ukraine and the EU is being delayed by the Tymoshenko case.